FAULT Future: Freddie Dickson

 

We recently spent the afternoon with Freddie Dickson, the young voice setting music blogs ablaze with his dark ‘Doom Pop’ sound. Courting comparisons to Lana del Rey and the legendary Nick Cave, Dickson has just today released the video for his new single ‘Speculate‘,  which has already been played on Annie Mac’s show on Radio 1 and Jo Good’s on XFM.

It’s taken from an EP, of the same name, out April 13th on Columbia. Dickson has also announced an intimate headline show at The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington on 1st April, before heading out on the Communion New Faces tour on the 20th.
Freddie Dickson (2015), photographed by Constance Meath Baker

Freddie Dickson (2015), photographed by Constance Meath Baker

What are your influences and how have you arrived at this current ‘Doom Pop’ sound?

In the early days it was Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Van Morrison, and all those guys I had grown up on. Then as I got older I became more into production- The XX, Lana del Rey, Florence + the Machine, Plan B. I wanted an all-encompassing style for my music.

When did you start writing?

I didn’t start singing until I was 18 at an open mic, but I had been writing since I was 15/16. It just got to a point where I realised I didn’t want anyone else to be singing my songs.

When you did start performing, was it something that came easily to you?

No, I was so shy! But I just drilled my way through endless open mics. I guess I ‘Ed Sheeran’d’ my way through it! (laughs)

Were people quick to take notice?

No, not until I changed my sound. To begin with, I was just too stuck in the past. I was trying to be Bob Dylan, and no-one should try that! I got bored myself, and I did a gig in East London when I was 21 and a friend was just like “that was really bad.” And I knew it.

But I went away, and got Logic on my laptop, and started developing the sound I have now. The artists I want to be like are the ones who constantly change- Plan B, Kanye, Bowie. I get bored so easily (laughs)

Freddie Dickson (2015), photographed by Constance Meath Baker

Freddie Dickson (2015), photographed by Constance Meath Baker

It’s interesting, watching sessions and live performances that you’ve done, to see how you take that production-based sound and transfer it into the realm of the live experience. How do you find the music changes when you perform it live?
I think the live experience has to be so different from the record – if you just try to mimic the recorded version, there’s nothing worse. It’s almost like you have to do a cover of your own song, and put some twist on it.

The visuals seem very important to your music- is that something you’re closely involved with?
Yeah I think it’s so important. All the artists I like – Nick Cave, Patti Smith – they created all this powerful imagery. It would be weird, given how dark my sound is, if I was styled with bright neon clothing, right? (laughs) I think it all has to fit together; how you’re photographed, how you look, the live performance.

Part of that process is collaboration, which seems to underpin so much of today’s music industry. Is that something that comes easily to you?
When I was first signed I had so many co-writing sessions set up for me, and none of them really worked. But  I eventually hit it off with someone and now I have this great team of musicians and producers who help me reach the exact thing I want. I’m not an accomplished musician, and I don’t even try to aspire to greatness because the singing is really my thing.

Freddie Dickson (2015), photographed by Constance Meath Baker

Freddie Dickson (2015), photographed by Constance Meath Baker

Does the writing process come easily to you?
No not at all! And I think that annoys so many of the people I work with (laughs) I like to make sure every word is perfect, and that every syllable comes out of my mouth easily. I could never be one of these people who writes three songs a week, they’d all sound the same!

It’s interesting to hear you talk in terms of before and after being signed. How has the process changed since being signed- are there new pressures that come with having a label?
Not really- my label has been really nice. We still do it in the same way, writing away in my bedroom, and they give me my own recording space with good speakers which is great. It’s like having a little office (laughs)

As you’re writing music, are you constantly listening to new material by other artists, or do you try to cut yourself from other people’s work?
No, I follow a lot of blogs and love just diving into new music. I’d love to work with a hip-hop band, or a dream collaborator like Nas or Sia! I think she’s amazing because it’s so much about the songs and the voice.

Are you excited to be going on the Communion New Faces tour at the end of April?
Yeah I can’t wait  – it’s such incredible exposure! At the moment I can see how the fans are spread out and there are so many in places like Russia and Eastern Europe, but not enough in England yet (laughs)

Finally, what is your FAULT?
Scotch Eggs. And not being able to write songs very quickly.

 

All photography by Constance Meath Baker

FAULT FUTURE: MTV Unsigned 2014 Winner Marie Naffah, Live at The Barfly

Last night, in the small and dimly lit (and quite literally leaking) upper room of Camden’s The Barfly, Marie Naffah– winner of MTV Unsigned Artist 2014– played an intimate showcase, debuting new material and a unique sound that goes from strength to strength. Marie’s voice possesses a raw soul and her songwriting is endlessly honest, from the betrayal of Silver & Gold (the track that won over the MTV Brand New judges) to the comic emotion of the newly-debuted David Gray. It is her personal take on life and love- the high and lows, the disappointments and false hopes, the crushes and the comedy- that have the audience hanging on every note. Given the Camden setting (and the big hair,) a comparison to Amy Winehouse feels like a lazy one, but there is truly something of the young, early-days Winehouse in Marie’s honest lyrics and raw, off-the-cuff delivery.

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Marie’s lyrics are confessions strung together; nuanced observations that unfold amidst entrancing vocal runs. As clichéd as it sounds, her voice really does take the audience on a journey with each track, from whispered excuses (‘He said “honestly…nothing”’) and effortless trills (‘Even rooooocks get thrown’), to epic moments of unleashed vocal, where you feel yourself hit by the sheer power of her voice. Some tear up, some dance, some seem to end up strangely hugging themselves- in short, all are entranced. The critics have been drawing comparisons with the power-house voice of Florence Welch and, in the wake of last night’s roaring vocals, similar comments rippled through the crowd.

Special guest Archie Faulks, alias Tenterhook, is another remarkable talent, currently making waves on radio with his own track Stereo. He joined Marie on stage for Primrose Hill, having produced and contributed vocals to the track last Summer. This was followed by the debut of Hold You, a heartbreaking track of harmonies and vocal runs that, in its rawest form, already sounds like a No.1. With public support from the likes of MTV, ELLE and Levi’s, along with a consistent and invested fanbase, Marie is on her way to big things beyond being a mere ‘one to watch.’

The audience always feels fortunate to have seen Marie Naffah play live. Part of this is due to her immense talent, and part of this is due to the fact that she’s so clearly headed for big things that to watch her now, on a small stage in a crowded room on a Wednesday night in Camden, feels like a sort of strange luxury. Catch her while you can…

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